Upon learning of the death of Michael Jackson, John Mayer said, “A major strand of cultural DNA has left us.”  I don’t think anyone could have put it better.

It’s hard for me to wrap myself around the fact that Michael Jackson is gone. A truly iconic person such as he is such a part of us as a people that, to think of a world without him, leaves me feeling sad and befuddled. Just as you can’t pull a strand of DNA from a person, you can’t pull Michael Jackson from our culture. He has permeated it, molded it, and surprised it since he was 10 years old.

His voice, as a child, was pure and beautiful. His rock, pop and disco music set feet dancing, and balads like “I’ll be There” and “Ben” were beloved by all — race, age, sexual preference be damned; no one could resist that amazing voice. 

And even when you think it can’t get better, his body moved in ways that equaled or bettered the greatest dancers.  It’s said that when he was in his late teens and 20s, he had dinners with Fred Astaire and other great giants of the dancing world. I can only imagine the shared synergy at these events, because what emerged were moves never imagined. No one could pop his body like Michael Jackson. The moonwalk had been done before, but Michael reinvented the move. Other dancers accompanying him paled in comparison.

He was exciting, beloved and revered across the world.

Paul McCartMichael Jackson as I'd like to remember himney called Michael Jackson “a massively talented boy-man with a gentle soul,” and that’s how I hope he’s remembered. In so many ways, Michael was a true case of arrested development. Because he’d never had a childhood of his own, he yearned for one so badly that he could only identify with children or with others who had been child stars.

He was an innocent in so many ways, and even when his actions came into question, I think his intent was that of a child yearning for some connection.  Even his apparent abuse of prescription drugs was, most likely, a means used to quell his emotional, as well as physical, pain.

Whatever the case, the world would not be the same without Michael Jackson in it. His music will endure, we can watch videos of him dancing, but we’ll never know what more he could have delighted us with.